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This just struck me recently as I'm updating my ski clothing - it seems like ski clothing has much more hi-tech fabrics. Soft shells, Schoeller fabrics, Gore windstopper and other new fabrics from Polartec.

I would think the windstopper fabrics would be a big hit, but it just doesn't seem like it.

Am I missing something?

Thoughts?
 

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I think there are lots of hi-tech fabrics in winter cycling clothing. Check out the offerings from Assos, Castelli, PI, Sugoi, Gore, Burley, and lots of others. Despite those options some of us are reverting to low-tech merino wool for winter base layers & jerseys, but that's for another thread....
 

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Low-tech?

I agree with PdxMark.

For instance, Sport Hill, which makes single-layer cross-country skiing clothes that they rate for 0-40 degrees F with winds up to 35 mph, uses a material that appears to be very similar to Pearl Izumi's Ultrasensor Kodiak fabric.
 

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they are!

Jim the Giant rider said:
This just struck me recently as I'm updating my ski clothing - it seems like ski clothing has much more hi-tech fabrics. Soft shells, Schoeller fabrics, Gore windstopper and other new fabrics from Polartec.

I would think the windstopper fabrics would be a big hit, but it just doesn't seem like it.

Am I missing something?

Thoughts?
Yes, you are missing something.

I have a Gore Windstopper N2S (next 2 skin) jacket, and the Gore rain stopper.
REI had them. I picked them up for my winter riding.

Performance Bike even carried them.
 

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Also...

Since cycling is so highly aerobic, and the temperature (weather in general) can change quickly during the months we need those items, softshells can be a little limiting. They are around, but pricey as are the ski clothes items. The nicest cycling softshells I've seen in person are from Sugoi, Castelli and Santini. I'm sure the offerings form other high-end cycling clothiers are just as nice, as are the prices for those pieces. Even the ones from Sugoi cost more than a decent mid-weight jersey and a good shell (which will do the same thing with a little more versatility). That may be the main determining factor why you might not see many of them at organized rides in your area. Most cyclists I know would rather throw more cash into improving their bikes than have clothing around that doesn't get used all that much.

Bob
 

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Jim the Giant rider said:
I would think the windstopper fabrics would be a big hit, but it just doesn't seem like it.
Regular Goretex is one of the biggest scams in marketting history. It doesn't breathe enough to vent the perspiration of the most mild aerobic exercise. When it rains enough to defeat the DWR and wet out the outer fabric, it doesn't breathe at all.

Windstopper works a little better than regular Goretex fabrics, but its only legitimate use is for hats, balaclavas, and vests. When used as a jacket you easily overheat. Gloves made out of the stuff lose most of the insulative ability when the inner fleece becomes damp from perspiration. It has a very narrow range of conditions that it is suitable for. The same can be said for regular Goretex.

The clothing I use the most in the mountains is now all softshell--real soft shell like Schoeller or Powershield, not the crap made from Windstopper that companies are trying to push as a softshell. Windstopper is for lounging around town in.
 

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I've been using a Gore WindStopper jacket for a few years now. It is a Performance house brand.
 

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Jim the Giant rider said:
This just struck me recently as I'm updating my ski clothing - it seems like ski clothing has much more hi-tech fabrics. Soft shells, Schoeller fabrics, Gore windstopper and other new fabrics from Polartec.

I would think the windstopper fabrics would be a big hit, but it just doesn't seem like it.

Am I missing something?

Thoughts?
As others have said...look harder and you will find them. I have 3 or 4 cycling pieces (jackets, jersey's, tights) that I consider to be in the hi-tech catagory.

That said, I find winter cycling clothing commands a premium price. If you live in a place where XC ski or DH ski clothing is easily found, buy it instead. It's the same stuff and the ski wear seems to be more compeitive and therefore priced more affordably.

Scot
 

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It already has been said that bicycling is an aerobic activity that generates body heat and sweat as a result. Being that I ride my bike in variable weather I take the layered approach since, as I warm up, I get too warm and if it starts raining with a cold rain, I need to bundle up another layer again. I have polypropaline long johns and undershirt. I wear my bib shorts under the long johns, and wear over pants made of polypropylene (wicking fabric). I find my legs tolerate being bundled more than my upper body.

For my upper body I have a cycling jacket that has removeable sleeves and dual zipper. I can fine tune how covered I am based on effort and environement. I also had a long sleeve cycling jersey on that I could unzip if I needed more cooling. Also, since windchill has a big effect while cycling I wear a thin winter skull cap under my helmet that covers my neck. I can take that off when I get warmed then just wear a thin ear band. The whole idea is to have layers and bits that can be put on and taken off easily to fine-tune my comfort as I ride and as outdoor conditions change.

I switch between cycling gloves with exposed fingers and full-lined cycling gloves when it's cold. It's all a part of the experimentation I've done in the winter riding I've done over the years. The other thing is I have thick wool socks for cold weather that I can wear with my cycling shoes. I don't bother to use booties over my shoes since I have good circulation and keeping my head warm enough prevents me from having cold feet problems.

Everyone is different, though, so find what works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Under ACrookedSky said:
The clothing I use the most in the mountains is now all softshell--real soft shell like Schoeller or Powershield, not the crap made from Windstopper that companies are trying to push as a softshell. Windstopper is for lounging around town in.
This what I was thinking of. I have some hiking pants made from Schoeller Dynamic with nanosphere and they are really great. Also I have a Jacket made from Polartec's Windbloc ACT and it is great also.

It just seems like the selection is limited. All the big cycling clothing manufacturers make only 1 or 2 jackets or pants each.

Take a look at Arcteryx website and the product line up is amazing & that's just one manufacturer.

Now that I think about it, maybe it is the fact that a lot of people don't ride if it is cold & rainy.
 

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Lots of high-tech fabric in cycling

Jim the Giant rider said:
This just struck me recently as I'm updating my ski clothing - it seems like ski clothing has much more hi-tech fabrics. Soft shells, Schoeller fabrics, Gore windstopper and other new fabrics from Polartec.

I would think the windstopper fabrics would be a big hit, but it just doesn't seem like it.

Am I missing something?

Thoughts?
You mention mostly the "barrier" type fabrics - waterproof/breathable, windproof, etc. As others have said, cycling is too aerobic for these fabrics to work well, because their ability to breathe can't keep up with a cyclist's ability to sweat (even at moderate activity levels).

But there is another class of "high-tech" fabrics, and that is those fabrics which are designed to transport moisture quickly (wicking and hydrophobic fibers). These fabrics include Cool-Max, Field-Sensor, Ultra-Sensor, Dri-Clime, etc. These types of fabrics are used extensively for cycling clothing.

A quick note on breathable/waterproof fabrics for wet weather. As mentioned, waterproof/breathable fabrics don't breath fast enough to keep cyclists dry - at the rate at which cyclists perspire, the fabric might as well be waterproof/non-breathable. The best rain jackets (in terms of keeping cyclists dry) are not those with the most breathable fabric, they are the ones with the best ventilation.
 

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Under ACrookedSky said:
Regular Goretex is one of the biggest scams in marketting history. It doesn't breathe enough to vent the perspiration of the most mild aerobic exercise. When it rains enough to defeat the DWR and wet out the outer fabric, it doesn't breathe at all.

Windstopper works a little better than regular Goretex fabrics, but its only legitimate use is for hats, balaclavas, and vests. When used as a jacket you easily overheat. Gloves made out of the stuff lose most of the insulative ability when the inner fleece becomes damp from perspiration. It has a very narrow range of conditions that it is suitable for. The same can be said for regular Goretex.

The clothing I use the most in the mountains is now all softshell--real soft shell like Schoeller or Powershield, not the crap made from Windstopper that companies are trying to push as a softshell. Windstopper is for lounging around town in.
What a load of crap. I've used Goretex, Windstopper, and other Gore flavors in the mountains for years without the difficulties you alledge. A person just has to use their brain instead of swallowing market speak or rejecting a product out of hand because of some neanderthal throwback knee-jerk reaction.

Goretex type products work best when there is a significant temperature differential across the membrane, i.e. they work great in cold weather. High humidity lowers the effectiveness of the membranes as does a small temperature differential.
 

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Jim the Giant rider said:
Take a look at Arcteryx website and the product line up is amazing & that's just one manufacturer.
I love Arc'Teryx. The best outdoor clothing maker. Period. Also about the priciest. Everything of theirs has an athletic, trim cut. I've used my Gamma MX jacket for cycling. That works well. The Gamma SV is too warm for cycling use.
 

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Waterproof/breathable fabrics and vapor pressure

alienator said:
Goretex type products work best when there is a significant temperature differential across the membrane, i.e. they work great in cold weather. High humidity lowers the effectiveness of the membranes as does a small temperature differential.
It is not temperature differential that waterproof/breathable fabrics require, it is vapor pressure differential. (It is this vapor pressure differential that literally drives the water vapor through the membrane/coating.) It just so happens that the vapor pressure is typically higher with larger temperature differentials

The vapor pressure differential requirement is important to know, because that is why waterproof breathable fabrics require a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) treatment to work properly. A DWR treatment allows water on the outside of the fabric to bead up and roll off the outer layer instead of building up a saturating the outer fabric. As soon as the outer fabric layer is saturated with water, the vapor pressure on outer surface of the membrane/coating goes up dramatically, and vapor transmission slows down dramatically (or even stops). Waterproof/breathable fabrics have to have their DWR treatments renewed periodically to maintain their performance.

Of course, this leads to the irony of waterproof/breathable fabrics: The dryer it is outside (when their waterproof properties are least required), the better they work, and the wetter it is outside (when their waterproof properties are most required), the worse they work.
 

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alienator said:
I've used Goretex, Windstopper, and other Gore flavors in the mountains for years without the difficulties you alledge.
If you haven't noticed the deficiencies of Goretex then you have never really used the stuff. In serious rain the DWR gets overwhelmed and the fabric does not breathe. You are left wearing a $450 garment that functions no better than urethane coated nylon; the only advantage is that three ply Goretex's inner layer does not feel as clammy on your skin as single ply nylon. If you don't have bare arms pressed up against the fabric then there is no difference.

Any modest aerobic work produces much more vapor than can pass through the fabric, so you get wet from the inside out. Jackets have pit zips but those are one of those things that look good on paper but don't really work worth a damn in practice.

Sure the stuff works better when it is dry and cold, but then you don't need Goretex in those conditions anyway. You are better off with a windproof, breathable microfiber like Pertex.

The range of conditions that Goretex is useful for is very small. Compared with soft shell solutions combined with simple and super lightweight waterproof outerwear for rain, Goretex is rarely worth the weight and bulk to put in your pack.

For those reasons I call the marketing of Goretex a scam.
 

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Mark McM said:
It is not temperature differential that waterproof/breathable fabrics require, it is vapor pressure differential. (It is this vapor pressure differential that literally drives the water vapor through the membrane/coating.) It just so happens that the vapor pressure is typically higher with larger temperature differentials

The vapor pressure differential requirement is important to know, because that is why waterproof breathable fabrics require a DWR (Durable Water Resistant) treatment to work properly. A DWR treatment allows water on the outside of the fabric to bead up and roll off the outer layer instead of building up a saturating the outer fabric. As soon as the outer fabric layer is saturated with water, the vapor pressure on outer surface of the membrane/coating goes up dramatically, and vapor transmission slows down dramatically (or even stops). Waterproof/breathable fabrics have to have their DWR treatments renewed periodically to maintain their performance.

Of course, this leads to the irony of waterproof/breathable fabrics: The dryer it is outside (when their waterproof properties are least required), the better they work, and the wetter it is outside (when their waterproof properties are most required), the worse they work.
Your right. I spoke wrongly.
 

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Under ACrookedSky said:
If you haven't noticed the deficiencies of Goretex then you have never really used the stuff. In serious rain the DWR gets overwhelmed and the fabric does not breathe. You are left wearing a $450 garment that functions no better than urethane coated nylon; the only advantage is that three ply Goretex's inner layer does not feel as clammy on your skin as single ply nylon. If you don't have bare arms pressed up against the fabric then there is no difference.

For those reasons I call the marketing of Goretex a scam.
I'd say you don't know what you're talking about. Full stop. "Scam": only for dolts that don't understand a tool and the appropriate use of a tool. Wonder where you fit in.

I'd say you're not fit to judge anyone's experience, especially since you don't know any given person's experience. You're only aware of your own apparently vast and unquestionable experience and opinion.
 

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Jim the Giant rider said:
This what I was thinking of. I have some hiking pants made from Schoeller Dynamic with nanosphere and they are really great. Also I have a Jacket made from Polartec's Windbloc ACT and it is great also.

It just seems like the selection is limited. All the big cycling clothing manufacturers make only 1 or 2 jackets or pants each.

Take a look at Arcteryx website and the product line up is amazing & that's just one manufacturer.

Now that I think about it, maybe it is the fact that a lot of people don't ride if it is cold & rainy.
A possible reason for what you call the limited selection, is because more people ski than ride bikes in the winter. Hence the sales possibilities are much greater. The chance to make more $$ = more selection.

That said, I have no problems finding what I like and what works well. In fact, I buy most of my cycling clothes from Performance or Nashbar.
 

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High Tech

The best jacket I've ever cycled in is my old MEC lightweight wind shell. Very thin nylon, no coating, very breathable, and not completley windproof. +10 to -20C and below. I adust the warmth with layers underneath. I have goretex for the rain but it breaths poorly.
 

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Mark McM said:
It is not temperature differential that waterproof/breathable fabrics require, it is vapor pressure differential. (It is this vapor pressure differential that literally drives the water vapor through the membrane/coating.) It just so happens that the vapor pressure is typically higher with larger temperature differentials
I'll revise my admission of wrongness earlier. While it is true in gross terms that vapor pressure differential that drives water vapor across a WP/B membrane, you have to remember how, in statistical mechanics (thermo for physicists), vapor pressure is defined: p(i)=N(i)kT/V, where i designates the ith gas in a gaseous mixture. From this perspective, the ratio of p(i) inside the jacket to p(i) outside the jacket is heavily dependent on T and N, assuming that V doesn't change (It's a jacket, volume won't change much). And N is heavily dependent on T, since it is T that drives the bodies sweat response.

It might be picky to point this out, but you jogged my thermal physics recollections. From my physics point of view, the relationship inside jacket vs. outside jacket is heavily influenced by temp. Now I know that in my engineering thermodynamics classes, things weren't given in terms of first principles (generally, engineering doesn't go that route......not a slight.......), but I think things are more easily viewed from first principles since it gives a more complete description of the dynamics involved. An equation can always be simplified to more general terms or to fit the situation at hand or the methodology being employed.
 
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